James Gunn is taking a distinctly different approach to The Suicide Squad. David Ayer directed the 2016 DC Comics movie which was dark and he says got compromised in the editing. Gunn wrote and directed the sequel with an emphasis on humor right away. The producers knew what they were getting into, so after a certain point nothing could shock them.
Gunn was on a Zoom press conference for The Suicide Squad with producers Charles Roven and Peter Safran. We’ll have more with Gunn and the cast before The Suicide Squad opens in theaters and premieres on HBO Max on Aug. 6, but first here is how the producers got numb to Gunn’s surprises.
James Gunn took ‘The Suicide Squad’ job seriously
Just because Gunn is irreverent and macabre doesn’t mean he takes his work lightly. He got the Suicide Squad job after being temporarily fired from Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, and the job wasn’t just a lark.
“I could not believe that I went in with an idea that stayed stable from the first time I pitched it to the guys at Warners, with Peter and Chuck to the very end,” Gunn said. “Just the fact that I knew that I was being entrusted with this enormous amount of freedom on such a big budget movie, I really did feel a huge responsibility to people to do it the best I could but also because I was being given so much freedom, I felt the responsibility to take risks.”
James Gunn set a high bar for surprises in ‘The Suicide Squad’
Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) recruits the Suicide Squad to investigate Project Starfish. The movie ends with the squad battling a literal kaiju starfish. After that, all bets were off for Safran.
“The first time James came in and pitched the idea that one of the primary characters was going to be a 200 ft, pink starfish, once you get over that, there’s nothing else he’s going to do that’s going to surprise you,” Safran said. “Once you’ve bought in on the starfish, everything else is fair game. There was no real concern. What James came in and pitched is exactly [what he did].”
That’s not to say Gunn took it easy. Roven said the writer/director delivered on the execution of all his wild ideas.
“The amazing thing about it was it was a consistent escalation of the OMG,” Roven said. “First we heard the pitch, right? Then we heard how James wanted to execute the script and each step of the execution, ‘Oh, we’re doing that. Oh, oh, oh, and we have to do that.’ So it was a constant upping of the wow and the difficulty and it was a fantastic experience.”
James Gunn says movies have to take risks
A giant starfish and some of Gunn’s other The Suicide Squad ideas certainly make for a unique superhero movie. This is not a one off for Gunn. Gunn hopes to save the theatrical moviegoing industry.
“Making movies at this level, it does seem like big movies are the ones that people are going to see in theaters,” Gunn said. “If they don’t continue to take risks and change and try new things then people aren’t going to want to be coming to the theaters. If it’s the same boring three act structure every time, people are going to get bored. I felt grateful, I felt a sense of magic, I felt a sense of purpose and a sense of almost destiny the whole time we were making the movie.”